We have an interview with Starlight Barque today, author of the queer sci fi book “Service to the State”:
Queer Sci Fi: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Starlight Barque: Very recently! I’d been in the star trek fandom for some time, and was enjoying a whole boatload of fanfic, and when I suggested a story idea to a fellow writer, they told me to write it instead. Twenty-five stories later, I’d moved on to original characters and published a novella, Service to the State, with Carnation Books. It’s a sci fi post-apocalyptic M/M romance, and it’s available at getbook.at/service if you want to check it out. I’m working on a sequel to my novella, and I’d like to publish it this summer, but writing occasional fanfic is a nice distraction, and a lot of fun. I still need to finish the fanfic crossover story I started over a year ago; my faithful readers have been very patient. If you’re curious, I’m boldlygowherenodoghasgonebefore on a03.
QSF: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
SB: I jump out of bed and start writing! For some reason, I tend to start writing in my head at bedtime; it’s less like getting an idea than finding the exact words I need, and there’s no way to hold on to them unless I write them down, so I get up, turn on the monitor, and start typing. Even if it means going to work on a whole lot less sleep than I should.
QSF: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
SB: Well, I think that gay romance with a happy ending is still pretty uncommon. The publisher I’m working with will only accept novels with a primary LGBTQIA relationship and a HEA, to boost that kind of representation. I think it’s important to normalize LGBT relationships and tell the same stories that you would with heterosexual characters, and I also think there’s value in writing erotica that isn’t vanilla, to normalize kinks and the desire to experiment without judgment. It’s hardly the only BDSM story out there, but after the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, the more people who write erotica with consensual BDSM and real intimacy, the better. Anastasia and Christian Grey’s relationship is abusive; my characters are kinky in a healthy, consensual relationship. As a friend said recently, consent is sexy!
QSF: What advice do you wish you’d had before releasing your first story?
SB: To build a twitter following before releasing, and maybe start a blog/mailing list. Make connections in the writing community, set up reviews and interviews. I signed on with an independent publishing company, and I love them, but I wasn’t prepared for how much marketing I needed to do on my own.
QSF: Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from the book, the secret in their past.
SB: Galen secretly wishes for a threesome with Nav’s ex-boyfriend Thrax, who dishes out pain with the best of them. Expect a mention in the sequel!
QSF: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
SB: Everything! When I think about scrapping everything and going back to school, I think about medical or veterinary school. I always wanted to be a small animal vet and work with dogs. But I also wanted to be a professional classical musician, an academic, and a conductor (grade-school me conducted stuffed animal musicians to broadway soundtracks).
QSF: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
SB: The year after college. I would get on meds for depression and anxiety and kick ass at grad school. Or skip grad school and try medical school, veternary school, maybe study engineering or computer science. Take some risks. Be confident. Figure out my sexual orientation and get out there and meet someone.
QSF: What other artistic pursuits have you been involved in, and have they informed your writing?
SB: I’ve been making music since I was 6 years old. My dad taught himself Spanish guitar, so I started on guitar, and touched on keyboard, recorders, harp, French horn, and am now teaching myself the concertina. Oh, and I picked up s mandolin recently at a jam session. Trying new instruments is like candy for me! The only instrument I’ve studied seriously is violin, and I’ve gone from classical to fiddle music and improvisation. I think the improvisation has freed me up to consider creating original material, and I’d imagine it’s connected to the beginning of my writing career.
QSF: How does the world end?
SB: With a whimper. Well, no, I suspect there’ll be plenty of bangs, but the final nails in the coffin will go unnoticed, or at least unchecked, and by the time the major disruptions are happening, it’ll be too late to turn back. Sometimes it seems like it already is. Spoken by the girl who writes post apocalyptic fiction, of course. I do think there’s hope. Kids are figuring out all kinds of solutions to environmental issues, and maybe they’ll make better decisions than we did.
QSF: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
SB: Star Trek. Is this even a question? Next.
QSF: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
SB: I was. My tastes were too bizarrely eclectic to really name. I do remember absolutely falling in love with A Wrinkle in Time. I have a clear picture of myself reading it on the floor of a department store while my mom shopped for clothes. I was constantly getting in trouble for reading at the dinner table or under my desk in class. I’ve always enjoyed reading books multiple times, first to skim and enjoy the suspense, and then again to get to all the things I missed. And I love going back to old books and spending time in the worlds I love.
QSF: What is your next project?
SB: I’m working on a sequel to Service to the State. It’ll take place on an alien world, Milosian, as opposed to Alaska, which is home to my human protagonist, and center around a sudden change in regime that spawned an underground resistance. I’m about 35k words into it, courtesy of Nanowrimo, and it’s starting to take shape. I’m excited to see what my guys do next!